Denver Area Business Association (DABA) member Bo Moore was on his way from Cornelius to hear 10th District Rep. Patrick McHenry speak last Thursday afternoon at the Verdict Ridge Country Club. For awhile, it was touch and go whether he would arrive on time.
Thatâ€™s because Moore got caught in construction traffic on N.C. 73 coming from Cornelius to Denver at River Bridge.
â€œIt was terrible,â€ Moore told the crowd of nearly 100 gathered to hear McHenry speak. â€œWe need to have something done. That road is an evacuation route for the McGuire Nuclear Station.â€
During the question and answer session after McHenryâ€™s speech, Moore asked how the N.C. 16 road project could be pushed ahead of N.C. 73â€™s widening to accommodate several proposed developments in Denver.
â€œIâ€™m concerned about Wal-Mart and Loweâ€™s,â€ said Moore. â€œIâ€™m also concerned about the 10,000 people and 4,000 new homes coming to Denver.â€
McHenryâ€™s initial answer caused some in the audience to chortle: elect new leadership both in Washington, D.C., and in Raleigh. Then he grew serious.
â€œThe biggest problem in Raleigh is leadership thinks the state ends at I-77,â€ said McHenry.
Moore called McHenryâ€™s answer a â€œgood political answer,â€ meaning he wasnâ€™t expecting that kind of answer to his question.
Moore said in asking his question, he was looking for solutions â€“ now â€“ to the increasing traffic problem in Denver.
He added heâ€™s going to stay in touch with McHenry regarding the traffic issue..
Denver real estate agent Jim MacGillis, meantime, commented that the rising price of fuel is â€œhorrendous.â€
He asked what the federal government is doing to help consumers.
McHenry pointed out that Gov. Mike Easley sent a letter to President Bush, telling him that he could not drill for oil off the coast of North Carolina, then sent another letter to the President asking him to do something about gas prices.
â€œExploration is directly related to the price of gas and oil,â€ said McHenry. â€œThe problem is, most of our oil production is in the Gulf of Mexico and last year, 40 percent of oil production was wiped out by Katrina.â€
McHenry drew applause from the crowd when he said America needs to stop depending on foreign oil from terrorists and â€œlook after ourselves.â€
McHenry added if renewable energy resources were ever developed, then oil cartel Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would have to lower their prices.
Besides answering questions on traffic and fuel, McHenry talked about the hot-button issue of healthcare.
Specifically, McHenry addressed rising medical malpractice suits and the rising cost of healthcare.
â€œIn the U.S. House, weâ€™re trying to pass medical liability reform to keep doctors in business and keep them from being sued,â€ said McHenry.
He tied in the increasing wave of medical malpractice suits with the rising cost of healthcare, touting a healthcare savings account plan.
That plan, if passed, would enable people to save money tax-free for their healthcare needs.
â€œReasonably, people would have a large account saved by retirement, so thereâ€™s no need for insurance,â€ said McHenry. â€œBusiness needs to band together because thereâ€™s greater savings for businesses that collectively approach insurance companies.â€
Former DABA president Andrew Johnson asked McHenry for an update on healthcare legislation on Capitol Hill.
â€œThe reform bill regarding medical malpractice passed in the House last year,â€ said McHenry. â€œIt may die in the Senate.â€
Johnson said he was pleased with McHenryâ€™s answer to his question this time, unlike the answer to Johnsonâ€™s question about immigration reform at the Meet Your Legislators breakfast earlier this year in Lincolnton.
â€œHe gave me an insight to the political process,â€ said Johnson after the meeting. â€œI know what the problem is now. His answers were very enlightening.â€
2006 DABA president Gary Caldwell was pleased with the success of the luncheon.
â€œI think McHenry tried to answer the questions as fairly as he could,â€ said Caldwell. â€œEveryone seemed satisfied with the answers.
by Jon Mayhew